Chances are that prior to getting engaged, you may not have thought much about anything wedding related…or you may have created a Pinterest album overflowing with wedding inspiration years before getting engaged. While most people are familiar with wedding terms like wedding cake and bridesmaid, they may not be as familiar with terms such as day of coordinator or food and beverage fee.
If you are familiar with these terms, congratulations! You may already have a solid understanding of what to expect during your planning journey, which is awesome! If these terms are new to you, get ready to learn even more important wedding terms that will leave you sounding like the pros!
Knowing important wedding terms will let vendors know that you have done your research and have realistic expectations of what goes into planning a wedding. The more you know, the more likely you are to make savvy decisions that can save you time and money!
Get started by learning popular wedding terms, phrases, and important wedding numbers that every planning bride should know to sound (and make decisions) like a pro!
The segment of your wedding day where you will exchange vows and officially become one in front of family and friends!
On average, most couples spend between $500-$600 on ceremony related expenses such as ceremony decor, accessories, and the wedding license.
CEREMONY TERMS DEFINED:
Where the couple, wedding party, and officiant stand during the ceremony.
The order that the wedding party walks down the aisle at the start of the wedding ceremony.
The order that the wedding party walks down the aisle at the end of the ceremony.
The couple’s commitment to one another as husband and wife.
The person that will lead the wedding ceremony to legally pronounce the couple husband and wife. The officiant can range from a minister, civil officiant, and even ordained friend or family member.
THE WEDDING PARTY:
No, not an actual party but the cast of the day including parents, the bridal party, groomsmen and even flower girl.
WEDDING PARTY TERMS DEFINED:
Your right hand and trusted woman, typically your dearest friend that assists in organizing the bridal shower, bachelorette party and providing support to the bride through the planning journey and day of.
The groom’s right-hand man that shares the same role as the maid of honor. May also hold the ring for the groom at the wedding ceremony and tip vendors after the wedding reception.
Holds the same role as the maid of honor but is married.
Close family and/or friends that help the bride with tasks during the planning journey such as hosting some wedding activities, offering support, standing by the bride’s side during the ceremony and keeping guests entertained during the reception. Bridesmaids can be married or single.
Holds the same responsibilities as the bridesmaids for the groom. May also take on the role of ushers at the ceremony.
- The Flower Girl/ Ring Bearer:
Youngest members of the wedding party (often range from toddlers to 10 years old). The ring bearer holds the responsibility of carrying the grooms “ring” on a pillow (always a false ring) while the flower girl tosses flowers down the aisle.
The cast with the role of executing your day. Vendors include catering, cake designer, florist, gown designer, seamstress, venue, rentals, photographer, videographer, hair, makeup, wedding planner, stationery designer, DJ, and transportation.
VENDOR TERMS DEFINED:
Assists in a variety of roles such as bringing the couples theme life and assisting in creating their budget. Works with the couple throughout the journey up to the actual day of. Full-service wedding planners typically start at $2,000 up to $10,000+.
Despite the name, the day of coordinators role starts typically two to three months before the actual wedding day. The day of coordinator locks in the final details with vendors and executes the day of timeline to perfection. Day of coordinators typically starts at $600 up to $2,000+.
Delivers ceremony statements and officially marries the couple. Officiant may be religious or ordained to preside over the ceremony. Officiant fees typically start at $200+.
The location that will host your ceremony and reception. The ceremony and reception may take place at the same location or may require traveling from one destination to the next. Venue spaces may include a banquet hall, country club, estate, home, hotel or even outdoor location such as a beach. Ceremony venue spaces typically start at $400+ while reception venue spaces typically start at $2,000 for just the venue space.
If the ceremony and reception do not share locations, transportation is required to shuttle the wedding party from the ceremony to reception. Transportation may also include a specialty vehicle, limo, party bus or even trolley. Transportation typically accounts for $400+ for of the average wedding budget.
While the bride and groom are the stars of the show, entertainment often lends a personalized touch ranging from ceremony music, cocktail hour music, reception music, a band, DJ, and even photo booth. Traditional wedding entertainment typically starts at $600+.
Our personal favorite, the photographer captures the special moments of the day for memories that last a lifetime. Photography includes the photographer and videographer. Wedding photographers typically start at $1,200-$7,000+ while videographers start at $1,000-$5,000+.
PHOTOGRAPHY TERMS DEFINED:
Series of captures taken by a photographer of the couple typically based around a theme or in a picturesque or sentimental location. The engagement shoot is usually scheduled after the couple’s engagement and may be used for save the date invitations and engagement announcements. Engagement shoots typically start at $200-$500+.
The style of the photographers work. The look, feel and aesthetic of photos such as posed images or journalistic images.
Viewing of the bride and groom before walking down the aisle. Often beneficial to mutually overcome jitters before walking down the aisle and to take pre-wedding photos.
List of captures the couple would like the photographer to capture during the day of.
The party following the wedding ceremony and cocktail hour. Also known as the longest and most costly portion of the wedding day events. The wedding reception amounts for the largest percent of wedding-related expenses as the average couple spends $13,000 on reception related expenses including the venue site, food and beverage, cake, bar and rentals.
RECEPTION TERMS DEFINED:
- Food and Beverage Minimum
A specific minimum dollar amount that certain venues require must be spent on food and beverages to utilize the venue space. Often found when booking with hotels.
Typically at least one hour of downtime between the ceremony and reception. Often reserved for the wedding party to take pictures as guests mingle while enjoying cocktails and hors d’oeuvres.
Post meal options at the reception, often offered after the main meal has been served and well into the dancing segment of the night. Considered a fun way to entertain guests and to keep them fueled through the night. May include fun food stations such as taco bars.
Specialized cocktails, often created by the couple with personalized names and liquor combinations related to their wedding theme. May accompany or substitute full bar.
Time allocated that alcohol is provided by the couple at no cost to guests.
Classifications of liquor served. There are typically three types of liquor served: well/house, call/name and premium/top-shelf. Well liquors are typically the most affordable, often off-brand liquors such as Gordon’s. Call liquors are generally mid-ranged liquors such as Skyy. Premium liquors are referred to as top shelf and often the most expensive, such as Patron.
The bar that may require guests to purchase their own drinks after an allocated open bar ends or for the full length of the reception.
Assigned arrangement of guests tables and or seating at the reception.
A sampling of potential menu options while creating the wedding menu.
Dessert table at wedding reception typically given as a wedding favor for guest. May include sweets such as cake, popcorn, candy or even ice cream.
Includes wedding day attire for not only the bride but the groom and wedding party members. The average couple’s wedding attire budget starts at $2,000+ including the gown, tux, veil, accessories, hair, and makeup.
WEDDING ATTIRE TERMS DEFINED:
While the bride and groom are the stars of the day, the wedding gown is a close runner up. The average wedding gown starts at $800 up to $10,000+. The gown is often the #1 the bride is able to show her personality on her day through the selection of her gown of choice.
The suit worn by the groom on the wedding day. May be rented, purchased or even custom made. The starting price of a tux starts at $130 up to $500+.
The dresses worn by the bridesmaids that can be matching or unique to each girl. The bridesmaid’s dresses are often an additional way for the bride to show her personalized style by the style selected for the bridesmaids. On average, most bridesmaids are responsible for their wedding attire. Bridesmaids gowns typically start at $150+.
Traditionally the veil is a tulle material covering the bride’s face as they walk down the aisle and lifted after being pronounced husband and wife. For modern brides, the veil can be found lifted the entire ceremony or skipped altogether.
Style and flow of wedding gown including a-line, ball gown, mermaid, sheath and trumpet.
An assorted stash of items in case of an emergency on the day of ranging from pain medicine to sewing needs.
The couples gift to guests and the wedding party. The average couple spends $800+ including guest favors, wedding party gifts, out of town guest welcome kits, gifts for parents and vendor tips.
WEDDING FAVOR TERMS DEFINED:
Gifts to show appreciation to wedding party members (including parents, bridesmaids, groomsmen, flower girls and ring bearers) for taking part in the day.
Gifts to show appreciation to guests for attending the day.
Gifts that are given to out of town guests for making the trip to attend the wedding day. May include a wedding day itinerary, trinkets, and sweets.
Tips that are given to vendors to thank for service. Tips may already be including in overall booking fees as service fees. Tips may be provided in the form of cash, physical gifts or even providing a positive review on the vendor’s website.
Decoration throughout the ceremony and reception space ranging from floral arrangements to table numbers. Wedding decor, including floral arrangements, bouquets, ceremony, and reception decor amounts for an average of $2,500+ of the wedding budget.
WEDDING DECOR TERMS DEFINED:
Arrangements, usually created using flowers or candles and placed at reception tables as decor. Arrangements can be mixed sizes, styles and heights or the same.
Typical created using flowers or candles to decorate venue spaces. Can be used to decorate ceremony aisles or on tables such as the cake and guest book table.
THE WEDDING DATE:
The big day! The day your wedding and official exchange of vows will take place.
WEDDING DATE TERMS DEFINED:
- Average Number Of Weddings A Year:
On average, there are 2 million weddings a year in the US and 40 million worldwide. Knowing how many weddings overall keeps in perspective that you don’t have time to hesitate in locking in your top choices as you are not the only one planning your big day!
On average, there are 44,230 weddings a week. Wedding dates fill quickly, don’t hesitate in locking in your venue and vendors!
The wedding months that are most in demand, and often command the highest rates. For most locations, off-peak season months range from January-March while peak season months are generally June-October.
The wedding months least in demand and often that available at discounted rates.
THE WEDDING STATIONARY SET:
Includes wedding save the dates, invitations, programs, menu cards and even table numbers. Stationary amounts to an average of $1,400+ of the average wedding budget.
WEDDING STATIONARY SET TERMS DEFINED:
The set of paper goods including the wedding invitation, RSVP cards, escort cards, menu cards, directions, programs, save the date invitations and thank you cards. The average cost of a full invitation set starts at $400+.
The coming soon announcement sent to the main guest list to tentatively save the wedding date. Typically informal in style and either mailed or available electronically. Save the date invitations are typically mailed to guests 4-6 months before the wedding day and 6-8 months before if a destination wedding or hosted on a holiday.
The formal invitation set to guests invited to the wedding ceremony and reception. Includes the hosts of the wedding, couples name, location, time and if additional guests are included.
A separate care included within the wedding invitation that guests must return to confirm to the couple if they will be attending the wedding. RSVP cards are typically provided with a specified deadline to return to the couple, such as 3 weeks before the wedding day.
- Wedding Invitation Inserts
Miscellaneous insert cards that include information traditionally not included on the formal invitation with special notes to guests. May include registry information, maps, directions or special requests.
The program provided to guests during the wedding ceremony that guides through the schedule for the ceremony. May be helpful to explain cultural segments of the ceremony and to introduce guests to the wedding party.
Cards typically placed just outside of the wedding reception used to escort guests to their designated wedding table. May include the guest’s name and table number.
Cards used when guests have assigned seating at their reception tables. Place cards are typically placed prior to guests entering the reception and waiting at the guests designated seat to ensure they know where they will sit. May include guests name and pre-selected menu options.
Provides guests with the reception menu. Can be individual menu cards placed at guest tables or one menu placed where visible to guests.
Personalized web page to share wedding details, activities, wedding party details, engagement details and even how the couple met. Often includes engagement shoot captures and important information on wedding related topics for guests.
The guests invited to celebrate and share in your nuptials.
WEDDING GUEST TERMS DEFINED:
The guests invited to take part in the wedding ceremony and reception. The average wedding guest size for most weddings include 130-160 guests.
The allowance of guests to bring a friend or date to wedding day events. Plus one invites are generally optional for single, non-married guests that are not in serious or long-term relationships. Guests that are married, in long-term relationships or engaged should have a plus one.
The preference of the couple to host a wedding day specifically for adult guests, or for guests over a specific age only.
THE WEDDING BUDGET:
A hot topic that will be determined by the finances available to bring the wedding day to life. The amount allocated towards paying for the wedding and all wedding related expenses. The average couple spends $26,000-$35,000 (excludes the honeymoon) on wedding related expenses. This average varies based on location, guest count and formality of the day.
WEDDING BUDGET TERMS DEFINED:
The amount set by vendors to make payments towards their services. Deposit amounts and dates will be determined by the vendor.
The amount included in a vendor or venues fees that often covers tips and gratuity. Can be a fixed amount or negotiable per vendor.
Charges that can be in addition to the overall cost to book a vendor, or that can be determined by various factors. Hidden fees may include the cost of missing payments, running behind time booked on the wedding day or selecting out of season choices.
Protection in case of an emergency, cancellation or unforeseen circumstances.
THE ENGAGEMENT PERIOD:
The length of time between the proposal and the wedding day. The period of time spent planning the wedding day.
ENGAGEMENT PERIOD TERMS DEFINED:
- Average Age of Bride and Groom
Bride-27 / Groom- 29. Don’t let this lead you to put pressure on saying I Do! When you say I Do will vary for each couple.
The average wedding falls in the months of June, May, September. Be aware of the most popular months as often the first to book!
List of items, typically household items, that the couple provides guests to purchase as a gift through a registry at selected retailers. May range from requests for cash or even donating to foundations in couples name.
WEDDING REGISTRY TERMS DEFINED:
An array of items selected by the couple as suggested items. May include home goods, kitchenware or even cash or contributions towards the honeymoon.
WEDDING ACTIVITES :
The events during the planning journey including the engagement party, the bridal shower and the bachelor/bachelorette party. The average couple spends $5,000+ on their honeymoon, often an additional expense not counted in their overall wedding related costs. This is important to know to ensure that you do not forget to budget in your honeymoon! Many wedding activities, such as the bridal shower and bachelorette party are hosted by family, friends or wedding party members.
WEDDING ACTIVITIES TERMS DEFINED:
The time following the wedding for the couple to celebrate their new status. May range from a stay locally at a hotel or resort or an away trip.
Most Popular Places For Honeymoon
Hawaii, Mexico, Jamaica, Bahamas, Virgin Islands
A gathering of friends and family of the bride to be to “shower” with gifts, fun activities, and love. The bridal shower can be hosted by family, friends, or the wedding party. Who hosts may vary based on budget and cultural traditions.
- Bachelorette / Bachelor Party
Often hosted by the maid of honor/bridesmaids and groom/groomsmen as two separate events to send the couple individually. Typically a fun evening or entire weekend filled with activities meant to be the last “party” as single individuals.
Typically the day before the wedding designated as a time set aside to practice the ceremony processional, recessional and standing arrangements. Often at the ceremony venue site and includes the wedding party, planner, officiant and ceremony entertainment.
Often follows the ceremony rehearsal, the couple hosts a dinner as a personal, intimate thanks for wedding attendants, close family and out of town guests.
The order of tasks to guide the couple through the wedding day process and to-do tasks.
WEDDING TIMELINE TERMS DEFINED:
Schedule for the day of when vendors will arrive, set up, take down and perform events of the day as well as the time of all wedding day events from getting ready to cleaning up.
THE WEDDING STYLE:
Personalized touches and details that tie personal ideas and looks to the wedding.
The most popular wedding styles are romantic, simplistic, fun with personalized touches, elegant and traditional. Formal, traditional weddings are also increasingly less popular than the trend of modern, personalized and unique wedding themes. This is important to know to consider if your vendors are familiar with your preferred wedding vision and style to execute!
The most popular wedding colors are blue, purple, pink, and warm or vibrant tones. This is important to know as incorporating popular colors may result in your day resembling many other weddings you’ve seen without standing out. Consider hue variations to personalize!
THE ENGAGEMENT RING:
The ring worn to signify the person is engaged and to be married. The average wedding ring amounts for $6,000+ of the budget.
ENGAGEMENT RING TERMS DEFINED:
Shape of the engagement ring stone.
Round, Halo, Solitaire
Cut, clarity, carat and color which makes engagement ring diamond valuable.
Degree of an engagement rings flawlessness (including blemishes or scratches invisible to the human eye)
Color scale from white to yellow of an engagement ring. Colorless are most expensive with yellow most affordable.
Diamonds weight divided by 100 points with one being the weight of a paper clip. Cut, clarity and color most affect the cost of carats of the same size.
Round, princess, oval, marquise, emerald, cushion, asscher, radiant, pear and rose.
Holds ring in place with a band including prongs (the more prongs the more secure the diamond), bezels, cluster, tension, illusion, channel, bar, pave.
Setting that encircles the center gemstone to draw attention to the center ring stone.
If you’ve made it through this list, you should feel much more confident in how to sound like a wedding pro! Now that you know essential terms to sound like a pro, it’s time to take it a step further by learning how to plan like a pro! If you thought this guide was easy to understand, just wait until you take on our e-book, Getting Started: The Ultimate Wedding Planning Guide, for an insanely easy way to quickly learn the tips and secrets used by the pros! Save big and cut planning stress as you walk through everything you need to know to plan with ease! Click the graphic below to grab your copy today!